March is the season for college basketball madness, right? Right. But it’s also the season for college admissions madness too. “Stop the madness,” exclaims “Shark Tank’s” Kevin O’Leary, “Stop the madness.” Who can’t picture him saying this? A piece up on “The Atlantic” today entitled “The Absurdity of College Admissions” by Alia Wong paints a picture of today’s highly selective college admissions process that we figured we’d share with our readers. Our regular readers will learn little new in this piece…that getting into a highly selective college is competitive, that it leads students to seek out SAT and ACT tutoring, private college counseling, etc. The tone of the piece is that students shouldn’t have to jump through such hoops to earn admission to the colleges of their dreams, that there must be a better system (as Harvard’s ineffectual “Turning the Tide” report so attempted).
As Ms. Wong writes in her piece, “Acceptance rates at highly selective colleges have plummeted in recent years. Exclusivity has always been baked into their brand: Only about 3 percent of 18-year-olds in the U.S. go to schools that admit fewer than half their applicants, making the ‘college-admissions mania,’ as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson once put it, ‘a crisis for the 3 percent.’ Still, it’s a mania to which more and more teens are subjecting themselves, pressuring applicants to pad their resumes and tout superficial experiences and hobbies, convincing them that attending a prestigious school is paramount. And critics say that mania has even spread into and shaped American culture, often distorting kids’ (and parents’) values, perpetuating economic inequality, and perverting the role of higher education in society as a whole.”
On second thought, it sure does sound like Bernie Sanders wrote this piece. Is Bernie Sanders moonlighting as a writer for “The Atlantic”? Feel the Bern. Bernie, while there is certainly truth in this piece, there are also some misconceptions presented. A college applicant who pads her resume with superficial activities will not improve her case for admission. Such activities will be perceived as exactly that — resume padding. And when you write, “Things have gotten so bad that a slew of educators and administrators recently pledged to ‘rethink’ the admissions process at selective colleges on the grounds that it is so competitive—and so obsessed with enrolling near-perfect, well-rounded students—that it tempts teens into a dark, dangerous spiral that sucks the learning out of education and favors those with means,” you’re overtly stating that highly selective colleges are seeking out well-rounded students when in fact the opposite is true. Highly selective colleges seek out singularly talented students, not well-rounded ones. Come on, Bernie. You can do better. We know it.